The objective is clear: surpass EA Sports’ FIFA series as the unquestioned king of the virtual pitch in the eyes of hardcore and casual fans. That’s a large target group, but Konami is showing no signs of giving up the fight.
Let’s talk about the biggest strengths and greatest weaknesses for PES 2017 . As usual, we’ll start with the pros.
Best Collision Physics I’ve Ever Seen
There were plays from PES 2016 that I replayed over and over because of how crisp the physics detection was in last year’s game. This year’s game is even better in this department.
Hardcore sports gamers are looking for total reality in the recreations of their favorite sports. That may never be attained, but development teams that come close to the concept deserve kudos.
Usually when you hear cool and branded concepts like Real Touch and Real Pass, the impact of the feature can’t be felt as clearly as its advertised.
That’s not the case here. In fact, I’ve never played a sports game with better physics.
From the bounce of the ball on the grass, off players and in the net, to the way bodies collide,
PES 2017 feels great.
Adaptive A.I. Makes a Difference
I scored two quick goals with Fernando Torres and I was feeling pretty good about myself. It was the first time in three matches I’d managed to score more than one goal in a contest.
From that point on, it was much harder to get El Nino free. He was dogged by two markers for the rest of the match. While it was frustrating, I appreciated the real-life adjustments.
Quite Simply, This is Fun
Technical jargon aside, PES 2017 is fun to play. It’s challenging enough to keep you from dominating too quickly, but it’s also not so difficult that it becomes discouraging to play for newcomers and novices.
When you find the back of the net, or set up a teammate with a perfectly placed through ball, you’ll feel the excitement rise and that’s what playing a sports video game is supposed to feel like.
The PES developers also deserve credit for creating a creation suite that is designed to help its community bridge the gap created by the lack of key licenses–namely the English Premier League and major Spanish clubs like Real Madrid.
Full kit, logo, player creation and customization is available for those with the time and passion to make the game feel more official.
Another layer to the customization suite was added with the data share feature for PlayStation 4 users. With a thumb drive, creations and data can be transferred from one console to the next.
This leaves XB1 gamers in the cold, but it’s better than nothing.
Steps Taken To Add Visual Authenticity
Player renders and stadium recreations haven’t always been a strong suit for the PES series. There’s still some unevenness in this regard, but there’s also some clear improvements.
There are hundreds of new authentic heads for players, and some of the stadiums look better than they have in the past. Not every aspect of the visual package is stellar, but strides have been made.
Master League Has A Few New Layers
The Master League is my favorite of all the modes in the game. This year’s game has updated its transfer system, monetary management tools and the match scheduling has gotten an injection of realism.
There’s a few different and new negotiation terms for player acquisition–including loan terms. The player growth system has been improved with the addition of skill development as well as ability enhancement.
Depth is always the key to a successful franchise mode, and Master League has new density.
Commentary is Horrendous
The commentary in PES 2017 is as bad as the physics are good. Most of the lines are lifeless. When the energy is ramped up, it often sounds misplaced and disconnected.
There are far too many repeated phrases and not enough player, club or league-specific content. It only took about four matches for me to discover this sad fact.
If you’re making a list of sports video games that are best enjoyed with your own personal soundtrack rather than the in-game commentary, PES 2017 needs to be included.
No In-Game Immersion for Major Tournaments and Matches
Following the same bland lines drawn by the lackluster commentary, the presentation during major tournaments and big matches feels like a friendly.
At the start of a UEFA Champions League match you see the glorious ceremony and presentation, but once play begins, there’s not a lot going on visually or from an audio standpoint that says “this is a big match.”
We need more immersion and situation recognition in the presentation.
I Still Miss Manchester City
I understand EA Sports owns most of the exclusive licenses in the FIFA universe, but when a consumer is making the choice of which virtual soccer game to purchase, they’re not going to grade on a curve because EA has muscled its way to a place of exclusivity.
On one hand, the underdog in me says: “Wow, Konami has done a great job in their attempt to lessen the impact of not having the full license to some major clubs.”
On the other hand, I still want to see City in all their glory. Whether it’s “fair” that one company has the license or not doesn’t change my desire to use the officially branded clubs.
Sure, I could recreate the Sky Blues’ crest and plug in any vital missing players, but it’s better if I don’t have to. I’m quite the player and team creator, but if we’re being honest, it’s not the most ideal situation.
MyClub Has Almost No Improvements
It was disappointing to see that MyClub didn’t see more additions. Aside from the new scouting auctions, the mode is virtually the same as it was last year.
The player unveiling is still the best in any sports game, but with series like Madden, MLB The Show, FIFA, NBA 2K and NHL doing so much with their similar modes, MyClub has fallen a bit behind its peers.
Modes Aren’t Fully Fleshed Out
On a whole, you can tell the dev team focused most of their attention on tightening gameplay. That’s understandable, but this approach has left many of the modes feeling a tad empty.
Where’s the story concept in Become a Legend? Just as egregious is the absence of a way to skip to your player’s appearances on the pitch.
A draft mode of some sort would have been great for MyClub, or an online version of Master League. From a mode standpoint, the concepts are present but they aren’t completely developed.
The mission has been accomplished for one half of the aforementioned vast target demographic, but the other half may still have eyes for FIFA 17 .
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS#, Xbox 360 and PC (PS4 version reviewed)
Developer: PES Productions
Release Date: September 13, 2016
Score: 7.5 out of 10
(Note: A roster update will be available on 9/14/16 for the PS4 and XB1 versions.)
Follow Brian “FranchisePlay” Mazique on Twitter @UniqueMazique and subscribe to his gaming YouTube channel: FranchisePlay Sports
Courtesy of www.forbes.com